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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Birthday, Canada!

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you!  Happy birthday, dear Canada, happy birthday to you!

Time to celebrate each and every little thing Canadian!

Which begs the question: What are we celebrating?  Is there a bigger celebration?

Is this day about beavers and RCMP? Large double, doubles and poutine?  Is it about the discovery of insulin or the innovation of the iced cappuccino?

D'oh!  Yes, even Bart Simpson is Canadian.  (Don't believe me? Check Wikipedia!)

See, as I look at myself, I'm half Canadian, half American, half German, and half Hungarian.  I've also got a bit of Dutch in me.  (Hence the wood shoes.)  I've eaten so much pasta and veal, I've got to have Italian citizenship by now.  In the end, I guess you could just say I am FULL OF MYSELF...  When it comes to the Olympics, whom do I cheer for?

Usually the underdog, actually.

Take a step back, though.  Truth is, it is nice to belong to a group.  It feels right. It's cozy.  There is a feeling of strength in numbers. It leads to a superficially improved self esteem by way of association.  That's what nationalism, first and foremost, is to my understanding.  And perhaps one can reasonably argue that waving your country's flag at the Olympics is not a bad thing.  The problem is that all this nationalism - this attempt to belong - is really very superficial when you think about it.  Especially today and for the last century or perhaps few centuries.

When Jesus was a kid He didn't travel very far from home.  Donkeys weren't unionized, but at the same time they sure didn't work like vehicles of today.  Until modern travel, people typically married within their city-state or village.  Individuals became parts of couples, couples were parts of families, families were parts of communities, and so on...  Geography meant something generation after generation.  Greed being what it was (and is), foreigners- that is, people different from "us"- were to be feared.  But then there were some world travellers who ventured by water...  Until finally the real explosion happened.  Horse and carriage and wind and sail were replaced by motorized transportation.  Soon the dream of air travel became a reality.  All of a sudden Sally didn't have to marry her cousin Harry, because there were lots of hairy people out there!  The gene pool of each geographic region on the planet suddenly changed, never to be the same again.

Canada, indeed much of the so-called "developed" world, is really a melting pot of so many backgrounds.

And doesn't this really highlight a central point: we are all part of the global village!  Black or white, yellow or albino, Canadian or Klingon... we are all just part of the global village.  As such, the thin line on the maps of the world, to me at least, signify very little.  

Perhaps surprisingly, what they tend to signify is something ugly.  Because it seems to me what these boundaries are really saying is: "We are us, and you people (outside our boundaries) are not. So bug off!"  That's admittedly a bit gruff.  But if you look at the state of the world, is it inaccurate?

It really is about perspective... and, as many an astronaut has commented, looking down on the world from space one can see a lot of details, like Niagara Falls, for instance, but one cannot see any lines dividing the various places that are home to all.

At the risk of being considered a rain cloud on your parade, let me say again Happy Birthday, Canada!  And here's to the ongoing building of tolerance of all people.  Here's to breaking down the fears of xenophobics everywhere!


(Wow, already 141 years old.  Geez, that Botox must really be working.  You don't look a day over 50, Canada!  Botox use for anti-aging: also Canadian!)

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